Forest dept staffer killed by elephant in Maharashtra’s reserve, animal restrained
A bull elephant from the Botezari elephant camp at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district had to be physically tracked and restrained after it killed a forest department staffer on Thursday afternoon
A bull elephant from the Botezari elephant camp at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district had to be physically tracked and restrained after it killed a forest department staffer on Thursday afternoon. The elephant, 25-year-old Gajraj, was finally tranquilised at 5am on Friday after a nightlong operation.
Department officials said the elephant had entered a period of musth, a phenomenon seen in male adults that is characterised by aggressive, irritable behaviour and in which the elephant’s testosterone levels can shoot up by almost 60 times. Musth is a healthy occurrence and typically lasts between two-four months.
“Unaware of this fact, assistant conservator of forests (Kolsa), Mr Kurkarni, along with chief accountant at the office of forest department, TATR, were moving in the same area. Their vehicle got stuck in the mud and they had to leave the vehicle looking at the approaching elephant. In the process, the elephant attacked the two and tragically Shri Gaurkar, chief accountant, died in the event,” the forest department said in a statement.
“Two rapid response teams, one from Tadoba Tiger Reserve and another from the Chandrapur forest division had to be called in. We started tracking the animal on Thursday evening, but because it got dark and the elephant was aggressive, we could not confront it till about 5am, when it was finally taken into captivity. The elephant is currently chained and we’ll take a decision on releasing it after it is out of musth,” said Jitendra Ramgaonkar, chief conservator of forests, TATR.
At least 80 people, including several members of TATR’s tiger protection force, were roped in for the operation.
“Our main concern was the safety of villagers in Kolsa and Ram Talodi, which are the only two habitations inside the TATR core area. We immediately put the residents on alert. Our elephant camp was initially located outside the core tiger reserve area in a village called Moharli, and was shifted earlier this year to Botezari to avoid incidents like this. This was an extremely unfortunate occurrence,” said Ramgaonkar.